People with Acne More Likely to Suffer from Bowel Disease

Skin diseases, such as acne, are common in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and vice versa.

A new study, published today in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology has found that people who have acne are likely to suffer from IBS and if they already have IBS, chances are they will have an acne outbreak sooner or later.

Acne vulgaris affects 85% of the youth. It occurs as a result of bacterial infection, sebum over-secretion and inflammation. Evidence shows that there is a relationship between acne and IBS. Intestinal bacteria (microbioata) play an indirect role in the development of acne.


Dr. Abdulllah Demirbas and Faruk Elmas from Ahi Evran University, Turkey decided to investigate the link. They work in the Department of Dermatology in Konya Numane Hospital where they recruited 300 patients with acne; most of whom were girls aged 20-25. As part of the study, they also included healthy participants without acne (control) in the study. They evaluated the participants both in acne and non-acne group and found IBS to be more common in the acne group. IBS diagnosis was made on ROME IV Diagnostic criteria.

An individual meets the ROME IV Diagnostic criteria for IBS if they have recurrent abdominal pain at least once a week for the past three months with changes in stool frequency, appearance and abdominal pain. IBS is a common digestive system problem that affects 20-45 million Americans and 10-15% people globally. The exact cause of IBS is unknown but the disorder accounts for up to 12% of total visits to physicians. IBS is a major cause of absenteeism and loss of productivity at work. It is more common in women, i.e., 60-65% as compared to 35-40% men.

Source: CDHF.CA

Dr. Demirbas asked participants to keep a check on their IBS episodes as well as acne outbreak during the flare-up. In the acne group, pimple flare-ups were common and associated directly with abdominal distension, bloating, changes in bowel habits and feeling of incomplete evacuation.

The study further takes the concept of the gut-brain-skin axis that has been around for a long time, albeit little understood. IBS results in the loss of essential minerals and nutrients from the body which can directly or indirectly affect the skin and result in various conditions including rosacea, wrinkles and acne. Alongside, IBS can cause a great degree of stress and anxiety that results in the secretion of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine and acetylcholine) that directly affect intestinal and skin bacteria.

Skin is the reflection of digestive health. A healthy gut ensures radiating and clear skin. Dietary and lifestyle changes including cutting down on processed and refined food, alcohol and caffeine can help manage both IBS and acne.

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